The Parable of the Two Brothers

Two brothers wanted to go to a distant country to make their fortune.  They asked their father for a blessing, saying: “Father, we go on our way to make our fortune.  Your blessing, please.”  Their father agreed, saying, “Go with my blessing, but on your way put marks on the trees lest you get lost.”  After they received the blessing, the two brothers started on their safari.

The older brother entered the forest and cut down some of the trees he passed and made marks on other trees.  He did this for the whole journey.  The younger brother took another route.  While on the way, he arrived at the house of a certain person.  He knocked on the door.  He was invited in and made friends with the children of the family.  The younger brother continued on his journey, and made friends wherever he passed.

Finally, the two brothers returned home.  On their arrival their father gave them a warm welcome, saying, “How happy I am to see you back home again, my sons, especially since you have returned safely.  Wonderful!  Now I would like to see the marks which you have left on the trees.”

So the father went with his firstborn son.  On the way the older brother showed his father all kinds of trees that he had cute down and others with the marks that he had put on along the way.  They travelled a long distance without eating on the trip.  Finally, they returned home empty-handed.

Then the father set out with his secondborn son.  During the journey the younger son and his father were warmly received by different friends.  They were treated as special guests at each place they visited.  Goats were slaughtered to welcome them.  They were very happy.  They brought home many gifts including meat and other presents.

Then the father summoned his two sons and said: “Dear sons, I have seen the work that you have done.  I will arrange a marriage for the one who has done better.”  He turned to the firstborn son and said, “My son, I think you are foolish.  You cannot take care of people.  I told you to put marks on the trees wherever you pass.  You have cut down many trees.  What is the profit of all these trees?”  Turning to the second son he said: “My son, you are clever.  I am happy you have put such important marks wherever you have gone.  Wherever we passed, we received a very good welcome.  This came from your good personal relationships with the people we visited.”

Then he said: “My dear children, now it is good for me to give my reward.  I will arrange a big feast for my younger son.  We will slaughter a cow for him.  For my younger son has made good and lasting marks wherever he passed.”

— Sukuma story, reported by Joseph G Healey and Donald F Sybertz in Towards an African Narrative Theology

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1 Comment

Filed under Journaling

One response to “The Parable of the Two Brothers

  1. ellaine

    what are the names of the two brothers

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